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Nano Low Tech planted aquarium tank 3 things you need to know

More and more people are getting into aquascaping as it’s a fantastic hobby that combines both art and science to create stunning landscapes habitable by fish. However, on top of not being a cheap hobby, the time requirement of aquascaping can deter many people from getting into it. Indeed, all those great tanks you see on the internet with sprawling lush vegetation and plenty of different fish; all following a particular style don’t come free, both in time and money.

Bigger and more impressive designs featuring lots of fishes and great vegetation are going to require constant attention and care from the aquarist as well as maintenance in the way of trimming, water changes, and fertilizer dosing. Luckily for you, if you’ve been discouraged from joining this wonderful community because of the time requirements, I have a solution for you: low tech nano tank.

What is a nano low tech tank?

This article will help your set up a working and thriving low-tech nano tank that will give you great results why costing way less time to maintain than most tanks you see out there.
If you’re new to aquascaping, then you might not know what a low tech tank is.

Low tech tanks are commonly opposed to high tech ones, this name has nothing to do with the level of technology used but was used historically to refer to tanks using CO2 injectors when they were considered to be pretty high tech.

A nano low tech tank is simply a low tech tank that is quite small and compact. It’s designed to grow plants and breed fish in a very small area.

What you need to make a great low tech planted tank

Nano low tech tanks aren’t very different from high tech tanks in terms of the requirements for making a great aquarium. One of the most crucial things to achieve great results is still going to be adequate planning. For this, as always, pen and paper are your best friends to make rough sketches of your desired result.

Since nano low tech tanks have way less room to add things, everything you put in your tank must be perfect and have a high impact on your design, nano tanks aren’t the place for fluff and can only have the bare essentials with them.

Tank choice

Your tank is arguably the most crucial piece of your aquascape, so you must choose it wisely and appropriately. Nano tanks are generally considered to be any tank containing below 30 gallons of water.

You can, however, get creative and use different types of tanks to hold your water. If you’re not already familiar with them, shallow tanks are amazing for creating nano low tech tanks, they offer better gas transmission between water and air, giving your fish more oxygen and your plants more CO2.

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Other than that, shallow tanks have the added benefit of being way easier to light properly. All those benefits added together means that when trying to make a low nanotech, you should consider getting a shallow tank as this will help you in every possible way.

If you still want to try other tanks, you should then follow those guidelines to get a tank that won’t cripple your aquascape. Avoid tall tanks as they will be a pain to light properly and always plan carefully before doing anything.

The cost of your aquascape can go up very quickly depending on the size of your tank, the tank might be cheap, but what’s inside and proper lighting and fertilizer is going to cost you a lot when added together.


The plant makes for another crucial part of your aquascape tank. Remember that you are working with a nano low tech tank here, which means low CO2 and small space. Make sure that the plants you choose to grow can do well with low CO2 and still develop properly.

Avoid plants that will grow too much or too tall as they will take all the space in your already small tank. I advise you to choose plants that match those criteria such as water sprite, Anubis, marsileas, java mosses.

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When you have chosen your plants and are ready to start, you will need to plant heavily at first. Planting heavily from the start will prevent algae from developing too much in your tank. In the beginning, your plants should hold half the space of your aquarium to achieve maximum algae protection.

Failing to plant enough will have negative consequences on your tank, which will be at risk of being overtaken by algae. Plants are responsible for stabilizing the ecosystem of your aquarium, consuming fish waste, and cleaning the water for your fish by absorbing ammonia and heavy metals.

Tanks generally become stable once plants occupy 70% of the aquarium space. Never hesitate to go heavy on your plants as you can always trim them when you have enough. Getting rid of algae, however, is going to be a lot more painful.

Hardscape and substrate

The biggest constraints of nano low tech tanks are going to be low space and low CO2. This will probably mean that you won’t get access to very lush and overgrown plants that will create stunning visual effects as you will have neither space nor the CO2 to grow them.

You will have to make use of easy to grow plants that don’t need massive quantities of CO2 and will grow reasonably. In a low tech nano tank, the “wow” factor of your tank will fall on the shoulders of your hardscape rather than your plants.

You are going to use simple plants together with a much more complex hardscape to create stunning visual effects. Get inspiration from the various styles available and see how best you can use hardscape.

Styles such as Iwagumi can give you great ideas on how to achieve gorgeous landscapes by using primarily hardscape; after all, this style is all about using rocks. Relying on your hardscape will allow you to have way better results since you won’t lose your time trying to grow demanding plants that require a lot of resources.

Other than substrate is also a capital element to any aquarium, and nano low tech tanks are no different for that. I recommend you use soil substrate for your tank. Soil helps low tech tanks greatly since they carry much more nutrients that your plants will feed on.

Other than soil is great for your plants as they will be able to root themselves easily in it, this will boost the development and proliferation of good plant and fish bacteria as well as offering stability to your tank ecosystem.

Soil is extremely useful for nano low tech tanks when decomposed. It will release CO2 in the tank for your plants. This means you will get a CO2 source without doing anything, adding this on top of the easier CO2 circulation provided by your shallow tank, and you will have a great supply without using any high tech injector.

Even if your plants still lack CO2 to grow, soil properly has a track record of having better chances to grow plants properly, even under a CO2 deficit. With all those benefits, you can be assured that growing a thriving planted tank is possible even with a nano low tech tank.

But maximizing your chances is going to be crucial if you want to achieve a decent result as you need to get everything perfect. For this reason, you should go for the soil-based substrate as it is just way better than sand and gravel for growing plants without CO2 injectors.


As you’ve learned nano low-tech tanks can be a great way to start aquascaping if you’re a beginner or if you don’t have much time for maintenance. Even though it’s considered lower-tech, it doesn’t mean it’s bad, and it can give you impressive results for the lower amount of time and money you will spend maintaining a nano low tech tank compared to a high tech one. - For all your creative needs!

Now that you know all the crucial steps to make a great nano low tech tank, you will be able to make your own provided you follow the guidelines and work diligently selecting the best plants, hardscape, substrate, fertilizer, and tank. Nano low tech tanks are all about efficiency.

They will turn less money, time, and space into a relatively satisfying result compared to the enormous quantities high tech tanks require to give great results. Keep in mind that even though nano low tech tanks require less work, time, and items, it doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want and still get a great result.

Since you will have less to do and less to showcase in your tank than in a high tech tank, you will need everything to be perfect. Such is the price of efficiency when working with a nano low tech tank.